Nuclear Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Nuclear Engineering offers three graduate degree programs: the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), the Master of Engineering (MEng), and the Public Policy (MPP)/Nuclear Engineering (MS) Concurrent Degree Program.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Admission to the Program

Admission to the graduate program in nuclear engineering is available to qualified individuals who have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution in one of the fields of engineering or the physical sciences. For all programs, required preparation in undergraduate coursework includes mathematics through partial differential equations and advanced analysis, nuclear reactions, and thermodynamics. Admission is granted on the basis of undergraduate and graduate records (if any), statement of purpose, record of work experience and professional activities, letters of recommendation, and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), if applicable.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

In order to receive the PhD in Nuclear Engineering, all students must successfully complete the following three milestones: 

  • Required coursework: major and minor requirements
  • Departmental exams: first-year screening exams and the oral qualifying exam
  • Dissertation


Courses Required
Major Field (6 Graduate Level Nuclear Engineering Electives). A 3.0 GPA in the major is required.
One Technical Minor Field Outside Nuclear Engineering (2-3 courses; 1 course must be graduate level). A 3.0 GPA minimum is required for both minors.
One Technical Minor Field Outside or in Nuclear Engineering (2-3 courses; 1 course must be graduate level). All courses taken to fulfill the PhD course requirement must be letter-graded.

Departmental Exams

Screening Exam

Students must pass a written screening exam during the first year in graduate study. The exam is based on undergraduate thermodynamics, nuclear materials, heat transfer and fluid mechanics, nuclear physics, neutronics, radiaoactive waste management and fusion theory. Four of the seven areas must be passed in order the pass the exam. There are two chances to pass.

Oral Exam

After completion of the coursework for the PhD the student takes the oral exam. The content of the exam is usually a presentation of the student's research and questions relating the coursework in the outside minor. The exam committee is composed of four faculty members (normally three from the department and a non-departmental faculty member who represents an outside minor).

PhD Dissertation

A dissertation on a subject chosen by the candidate, bearing on the principal subject of the student's major study and demonstrating the candidate's ability to carry out an independent investigation, must be completed and receive the approval of the dissertation committee and the dean of the Graduate Division. The committee consists of three members, including the instructor in charge of the dissertation and one member outside the candidate's department.

Master's Degree Requirements (MEng)

Master of Engineering (MEng)

In collaboration with other departments in the College of Engineering, Nuclear Engineering offers a one-year professional master's degree. The accelerated program is designed to develop professional engineering leaders who understand the technical, environmental, economic, and social issues involved in the design and operation of nuclear engineering devices, systems, and organizations. Prospective students will be engineers, typically with industrial experience, who aspire to substantially advance in their careers and ultimately to lead large, complex organizations, including governments.

The interdisciplinary degree will consist of three major components, comprising a technical specialization in NE (minimum 12 graduate units), a “breadth” curriculum of engineering leadership courses (8 units), and an integrative capstone project (5 units). See The Fung Institute for more details.

Technical concentrations in:

Nuclear reactors design, management and infrastructure

Applied nuclear science and radiation detection

Nuclear materials and manufacturing

Medical physics

The MEng degree requires a minimum of 25 units of coursework in three areas:

  • The Core Leadership curriculum (8 units)
  • Technical Specialization in NE (minimum 12 units)
  • Capstone project (5 units).

CORE LEADERSHIP Curriculum (8 units, letter grade, required for degree)

  • ENGIN 270A, Organizational Behavior & Negotiations (1 unit)
  • ENGIN 270B, R&D Tech Management & Ethics (1 unit)
  • ENGIN 270C, Project Management and Teaming (1 unit)

Designed for Master of Engineering students, these courses explore key management and leadership concepts at the executive level that are relevant to technology-dependent enterprises.  During the courses, students undertake rigorous case study analysis of actual business situations.



Students choose 2 of 5 to meet the core requirement:

Communications for Engineering Leaders (2 units)

1 unit fall, 1 unit spring. A year-long course which supports your efforts to generate clear, engaging, and memorable content for your project’s reporting deliverables. 

Reporting deliverables include presentations, pitches, press releases, promotional materials, project proposals, and research papers.

TECHNICAL ELECTIVES in Area of Concentration (minimum 12 units)

All Technical Electives must be NE graduate-level courses (200) and taken for a letter grade.  Units for 298 (seminar) courses do not count for the degree.


5 semester units of ENGIN 296MA-B (letter graded end of spring, required)


The 9-month capstone experience will challenge you to integrate your technical and leadership skills to innovate in a dynamic, results-driven environment.  Working on a team of 3 to 6 students over the course of the fall and spring semesters (5 units) you will engineer solutions using cutting edge technology and methods to address crucial industry, market or societal needs.

Berkeley faculty or industry partners propose capstone projects and serve as technical advisors for the project teams.  While details of the selection process vary by department, incoming students apply to their preferred projects, and the faculty or industry mentors make the final team assignments.


Capstone projects form the core of a highly integrated curriculum. Engineering Leadership (E270 series) courses provide skills necessary to engage specific industry, social, and/or economic contexts and formulate R & D, finance, and/or marketing strategy. Communications (E295) workshops support students as they reach out to a variety of stakeholders crucial to their project’s success.  Teaming and Project Management faculty support teams as they learn about project scoping, assessment, and improvement; stakeholder management; conflict resolution, etc.


Students must submit a team capstone project report.  In addition, each team is expected to provide the project advisor with a final project deliverable, the form of which is to be defined in collaboration with the project advisor.  Examples of project deliverables include product prototypes, algorithms, conceptual designs, software code, and proof-of-concept.

 All students are required to have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.


The Comprehensive Exam will be divided into two components, one devoted to leadership topics (to be administered by the Fung Institute), and the other to technical topics (to be administered by individual departments within COE).  The exam may be written, oral, or a combination of the two.

NE students that participate in a capstone project outside of the NE department are required to highlight the NE component of their project or will be tested on NE related topics based on coursework taken.

Visit the program website for more detailed information.

Master's Degree Requirements (MS)

The Master's of Science Track is only accessible to students enrolled in our PhD program.  Applicants interested in the Master's degree are encouraged to apply to the Nuclear Engineering Master of Engineering program.  

Students pursuing the MS Degree have two program options: Plan I, and Plan II.

MS Plan I requirements

Plan I requires at least 20 semester units of upper division (100 level) and graduate courses (200 level), plus a thesis.

The following requirements must be met:

  1. Minimum 8 units of graduate-level courses in NE.  Note:  No more than 2-299 units may count towards these 8 units. All 8 units must be taken for a letter grade (except the 299 units).
  2. Minimum 12 units of graduate-level or upper division courses in NE or another department. Note:  No more than 2-299 units may count towards these 12 units.
  3. NE major field adviser must approve all coursework each semester.
  4. NUC ENG 298 (seminar) units do not count towards the 20-unit requirement.
  5. Must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to receive the degree.
  6. Two-thirds of the total 20 units must be letter-graded.

Thesis Requirement

A Master’s Thesis is required for the MS Plan I program. Guidelines on “Thesis Writing and Filing” can be found at this link Please note that you must apply for MS candidacy by submitting an application for advancement to MS candidacy using the eForm in Cal Central. The Graduate Division must approve the MS candidacy to be able to file a master’s thesis.

Committee Requirement

Students must have a properly constituted thesis committee that includes three Academic Senate NE faculty members.  If a proposed committee member does not belong to the Academic Senate (i.e. LBL or LLNL), you are required to include a request for an exception (and the CV) together with the application for advancement to MS candidacy. Contact the Student Services Advisor if you require an exception request for a committee member, as you will be required to upload an exception memo and the committee members CV when applying for MS candidacy using the eForm in Cal Central.

MS Plan II requirements

Plan II requires at least 24 semester units of upper division (100 level) and graduate courses (200 level), followed by a comprehensive final examination administered by the department. In Nuclear Engineering, the “examination” takes the form of an oral project presentation, and a written report.

The following requirements must be met:

  1. Minimum 12 units of graduate-level courses in NE. Note: No more than 2-299 units may count towards these 12 units. All 12 units must be taken for a letter grade (except the 299 units).

  2. Minimum 12 units of graduate or upper division courses in NE or another department. Note:  No more than 2-299 units may count towards these 12 units.

  3. NE major field adviser must approve all coursework each semester.

  4. NUC ENG 298 (seminar) units do not count towards the 24-unit requirement.

  5. Must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to receive the degree.

  6. Two-thirds of the 24 units must be letter-graded.

Comprehensive Exam and Committee

Completion of a project culminating in a written report (10-50 pages) and an oral presentation (30 minutes) before a committee of three Academic Senate NE faculty members, or two Senate NE faculty members and one approved non-Senate member.  The written report must be submitted to the MS committee chair, and to the NE Student Services Adviser at least one week prior to the oral presentation.  Approval by the professor in charge of the research project and the HGA is required.

Master's Degree Requirements (MPP/MS)

Public Policy (MPP) and Nuclear Engineering (MS) Concurrent Degree Program

Government and technology interact more, and with greater consequences, every year.  Whether the issue area is nuclear security, environmental protection, intellectual property (copyright and the internet), health care, water supply, or any of myriad other contexts, government agencies at all levels, non-profit organizations and private industry need people who understand technology on its own terms and also the ways government supports, controls, or directs it. Because this program is small, each student’s program tends to be customized with the agreement of advisors in both programs.

Basic Requirements

Year 1
Completion of the MPP first year core curriculum.
Summer Internship.
Year 2
Complete required units in nuclear engineering, plus six elective agreeable to both schools.
Complete a paper that satisfies the MS Plan I or Plan II requirement, and the MPP APA (Advanced Policy Analysis) requirement.

For more information about this program, contact Michael Nacht (Professor of Public Policy, 510-643-4038) or Karl van Bibber (Chair of the Nuclear Engineering Department, 510-642-3477). 


Nuclear Engineering

Contact Information

Department of Nuclear Engineering

4153 Etcheverry Hall

Phone: 510-642-5010

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Massimiliano Fratoni

4151 Etcheverry Hall

Student Services Advisor

Amanda Gill

4149 Etcheverry Hall

Head Graduate Advisor

Bethany Goldblum

4113 Etcheverry Hall

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